Berkeley County Historical Society

Berkeley County Historical Society Preserving the history of Berkeley County, WV.

The Berkeley County Historical Society began in the late 1920’s. Citizens, interested in preserving the diverse history of the county joined to do their best to keep their families, friends and neighbors mindful of where they all came from and how the area came to have such a rich and diverse background. When the Great Depression struck, through the hardships of World War II, the society fell inactive. The cause was taken up again in the 1950’s being organized into a formal Society in 1963. The Society has met regularly since that time.

One of the brightest and best individuals in Berkeley County history is Ann Henshaw Gardiner.  The daughter of Dr. Samue...
03/07/2020

One of the brightest and best individuals in Berkeley County history is Ann Henshaw Gardiner. The daughter of Dr. Samuel Isaac Henry Gardiner and Mabel Henshaw Gardiner, Ann Henshaw Gardiner was an accomplished nurse and scientist. Born on July 3, 1890, Gardiner was 27 when she volunteered as a nurse during WWI. She served at the United States Base Hospital in Bordeaux, France, and her name is on the Doughboy statue, with 12 other women from Berkeley County who served during WWI.

According to the September 14, 1927 edition of the Harrisburg Telegraph, Gardiner was a graduate from Columbia University and Massachusetts General Hospital. The article then states that she became the residential nursing director of the Flushing Hospital School of Nursing in New York. She also directed nursing at Baylor University, Stanford, and she co-founded the nursing program at Duke University where she served as an Assistant Professor for a decade. At Duke, she is honored with both a scholarship that bears her name and with a portrait in the Department of Nursing.

Despite her distinguished career, Gardiner had strong connections to Berkeley County. With her mother, who was on the history faculty at Shepherd, she co-wrote Chronicles of Old Berkeley, which we at the BCHS are indebted to for the recording of primary sources. She directed Nursing Education at King’s Daughters Hospital from 1945 until 1967 and she served on the State Board of Examiners for Registered Nurses. She was also a member of the DAR and served as vice-regent for the William Gardiner Chapter.

Gardiner died on October 3, 1982 and is buried at Rosedale Cemetery. Left to right, pictures of Ann Henshaw Gardiner, her tombstone courtesy of findagrave.com, and an early picture of King's Daughters Hospital.

Find out more about some of the women who contributed to Berkeley County history next Saturday at the Berkeley County History Museum at 1PM when the Long and Short of It honors Women's History Month.

During the early days of Berkeley County when it was transitioning from Orange to Frederick County, the Beeson family wa...
03/04/2020

During the early days of Berkeley County when it was transitioning from Orange to Frederick County, the Beeson family was perhaps the most influential to its infrastructure. It can be guessed that the family may have come from Pennsylvania with members of the Society of Friends who followed William Penn.

During this time, the settlers of this area had to be self-sufficient and had to rely on another for basic survival. While the Beeson family had means, they must have also had some ability to establish ties with other members of their community in order to benefit everyone.

According to Gardiner in Chronicles of Old Berkeley, Edward Beeson operated a mill on the site that would later become the Hannis Distillery and then the National Fruit Company. The mill became a central point in what was essentially wilderness and its location served as a starting place for the creating of the first roads Berkeley County.

Besides being instrumental in the establishment of our first roads, the Beeson family also owned what was called the Red House, which is located near what is today Court House Square. The Red House, besides being a home, served as the first Court House in the area. It was built by Captain David Hunter in 1766 and purchased by Beeson in 1771.

Today, Beeson is best remembered for building Aspen Hall, the beautiful stone Georgian house on Boyd Avenue in Martinsburg. Like with many early homes, the initial part of the house was built in stone, first by Edward Beeson I, in 1745, and then added onto by his son, Edward Beeson II, thirty years later. It is the oldest house in Martinsburg and is still in use today.

Pictures are of Aspen Hall, advertising from Hannis Distillery, and the Red House

Early this morning, the James Johnston Pettigrew monument in Bunker Hill was struck by a truck.  The damage to the monum...
03/03/2020

Early this morning, the James Johnston Pettigrew monument in Bunker Hill was struck by a truck. The damage to the monument is catastrophic, but we hold out hope that it can be repaired and reset. The monument was erected by the North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy.
James Johnston Pettigrew was a Renaissance man, highly educated in the classics and law at the Universities of North Carolina and Berlin. His background was academic rather than military, and he spent the years prior to the war traveling in Europe and dabbling in politics in Charleston, South Carolina.
July 3, 1863, Pettigrew was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His men formed a third of the Confederate infantry assault against the Union center that came to be known as “Pickett's Charge.” The Confederate forces took devastating losses. They would limp away for the Potomac River and Virginia on the other side.
Heavy rain delayed the river crossing until July 14th. Pettigrew's Brigade was part of the Confederate rearguard that would face the full assault of the Union pursuit. Leading from the front and armed only with a pistol, Pettigrew advanced on a lone Federal trooper that had been firing on his men. His weapon misfired, but his enemy’s did not. He was shot in the stomach at close range.
Pettigrew was evacuated across the Potomac. At that time, a severe wound to the abdomen was essentially a death sentence. He was taken to Edgewood Manor, near Bunker Hill, where his condition steadily deteriorated. After visits from Confederate leaders, he died on July 17th, 1863. The Army of Northern Virginia lost one of its brightest and most ardent leaders that day.
Pettigrew was so respected in his home state, that the United Daughters of the Confederacy, some of them descendants of Pettigrew’s men, dedicated the monument to his memory. It has stood from its dedication in 1929, until today. We hope the monument, a part of our community’s history, can be repaired and erected again to commemorate the life and death of General James Johnston Pettigrew.
The plaque reads, “Due West of this tablet, 650 feet, is the Boyd House in which died, July 17, 1863, Brig. Gen. James Johnston Pettigrew, of North Carolina, C.S.A. At Gettysburg he commanded and led Heth’s Division in the assault on Cemetery Ridge, July 3, and in the retreat was mortally wounded at Falling Waters, July 14, 1863. ‘He was a brave and accomplished officer and gentleman, and his loss will be deeply felt by the country and the army.’ R.E. Lee.”

Our new website is up and running, you can visit at www.historicberkeley.org. Our new email address is bchs@historicberk...
03/02/2020
Berkeley County Historical Society

Our new website is up and running, you can visit at www.historicberkeley.org. Our new email address is [email protected]. It will be evolving as we add new features and benefits of membership to the site. Thank you for supporting Berkeley County's history!

Our Mission  We are dedicated to the collection, documentation, restoration, interpretation, and protection of the history of Berkeley County, West Virginia and to making it available for education, research and community purposes. The Society operates as an all-volunteer non-profit and receives no...

Our new website is up and running, you can visit at www.historicberkeley.org.  Our new email address is bchs@historicber...
03/02/2020
Berkeley County Historical Society

Our new website is up and running, you can visit at www.historicberkeley.org. Our new email address is [email protected]. It will be evolving as we add new features and benefits of membership to the site. Thank you for supporting Berkeley County's history!

Our Mission  We are dedicated to the collection, documentation, restoration, interpretation, and protection of the history of Berkeley County, West Virginia and to making it available for education, research and community purposes. The Society operates as an all-volunteer non-profit and receives no...

John Basey, Sr. is said to have been born in Jefferson County on February 18, 1860.  He was the son of Eliza Jane and Ch...
02/29/2020

John Basey, Sr. is said to have been born in Jefferson County on February 18, 1860. He was the son of Eliza Jane and Charles Basey. He had an older sister Mary “Mollie” Basey-Cook, Emma Basey, Franklin Basey, and an "adopted" sibling, Laura Yates.
John was married twice, once to Malinda Mere of Baltimore with whom he had a daughter, Florence Basey. Malinda was killed on Water Street when an oil lamp set her ablaze. She later died of her injuries. His second wife was Emma Cook-Basey, whom he married in 1880 in Morgan County. They went on to have 12 children together.
Newspapers indicate that John worked for Citizens National Bank in Martinsburg as a janitor and took care of bank errands around town. In addition to his daytime job, he played baseball for a local, Negro League team in Martinsburg. John Basey died in 1935 in Martinsburg.

Willmore Basey, Sr. was born in Berkeley County January 24, 1892. He was the son of John Basey, Sr and Emma Cook-Basey. Willmore was a long-time employee of the Shenandoah Hotel in Martinsburg, where he worked until his death.
He served in both World War I, as a young man, and again in World War II, where he and his five sons enlisted together.
On the July 7, 1920, he married Eleanor Woods, daughter of John Woods Sr. and Lula Busey. They had seven children together.
Willmore, had a strict, no-nonsense policy on work and responsibility. The rule of thumb for a Basey was two-fold: remember that you are a Basey, and that means something; and hard work is essential for success. These two beliefs carry down to the current generation of Baseys.
Willmore died suddenly on the steps of his beloved Shenandoah Hotel on December 23, 1947.

John William Basey, Jr., was born June 18, 1883. He was the son of John Basey, Sr. and Emma Cook-Basey, and brother of Willmore Basey, Sr. He was a lifetime resident of Berkeley County.
In 1904, he married Mazie Braxton in Martinsburg. John Basey, Jr., along with John Hammond, started the Basey Cab Company in Martinsburg. His first cab was said to have been given to him my Mr. Ryneal because John had formerly been his driver. The success of the cab company allowed him to purchase more vehicles, and eventually build a new home.
According to people who knew him, he had a high standard of quality for his cars and he always wore a suit. John, Jr. also served in World War II with other members of his family. He died in Hedgesville December 14, 1967.

The Brooklyn Brass Manufacturing Company was a joint stock company that was incorporated in New York in 1894.  The compa...
02/26/2020

The Brooklyn Brass Manufacturing Company was a joint stock company that was incorporated in New York in 1894. The company manufactured brass and onyx tables of multiple patterns and all kinds of solid brass plated lamps with onyx bases and shafts.
The quality of their products was of the highest level in any part of the world, and the company’s production exceeded $300,000 annually. The company’s facilities were in Brooklyn, New York.
On April 1, 1896, the company moved its principal office and entire plant from Brooklyn to Martinsburg. They located their production and offices on the line of the Cumberland Valley Railroad, adjoining the Kilbourn Knitting Machine Company’s plant. Per Martinsburg historian Jeff Hollis, the location of Brooklyn Brass was south of, and near the John St. Crossing. If you look south from there, you can see the location. A big Thank You to Jeff for clarifying this.
Brooklyn Brass employed about 150 people. Most of them were men who were skilled laborers. Many of them moved to Martinsburg from Brooklyn.
The plant consisted of multiple buildings. The foundry building contained boilers to provide the power to operate the machinery. There was also a brass foundry room with eight brass furnaces and a spelter (zinc) foundry room with six spelter furnaces.
The main building had three stories. The first floor housed the buffing room, and the plating and washing room. On the second floor could be found the offices, and the lathe and drilling machinery. The third floor was the location of a store room, the lacquer and setup room, the shipping department and a warehouse.
Items to be shipped were transported to the first floor via an elevator and the Cumberland Valley Railroad spur line was within twelve feet of the building. The Brooklyn Brass Manufacturing Company was one of the largest and best equipped plants of its type in the country.

Before the days of social media, where people post personal pictures of their accidents and mishaps, the local newspaper...
02/22/2020

Before the days of social media, where people post personal pictures of their accidents and mishaps, the local newspaper reported when falls, bites, and other calamities befell upon citizens, both great and small.

In the May 16, 1899 edition of the Martinsburg Statesman, for example, mentioned that a Mr. John Kennedy of Bedington fell: “Mr. John Kennedy of Bedington had a right serious fall last week. One or two ribs were broken and a number of serious and painful bruises were sustained. He is now able to go about again.” Two weeks later, on May 22, 1899, the Statesman reported that one of higher social standing than Mr. Kennedy, Senator Charles J. Faulkner, fell and twisted his ankle while getting off the Pullman car on the B & O Railroad. The accident happened on May 21st, but Faulkner still went to work the following day, though on crutches.

As today, the local papers reported on automobile accidents, and, unfortunately, just like today, many of those accidents were serious and even fatal. One accident that made the September 20, 1933 edition of the Martinsburg Journal involved the Jersey cow of Fred Starliper, who was driving the cow into another pasture, crossing the Williamsport Pike, when an automobile hit the animal, causing serious injuries. The cow died a few hours later. The driver, who is not named in the article, and Mr. Starliper made a settlement between one another before Constable C. D. Jack. It is debatable if this type of story would make the newspaper today, but in social media, the Berkeley County Historical Society would like to remember Mr. Starliper’s cow, and we furthermore hope that none of our readers sustain accidents.

By the beginning of October 1918, the Spanish Influenza had spread throughout most of Europe, Asia and North America.  T...
02/19/2020

By the beginning of October 1918, the Spanish Influenza had spread throughout most of Europe, Asia and North America. The Shepherdstown Register reported that in Martinsburg the flu was prevalent and had significantly affected attendance at schools, in factories and churches as people contracted and helped spread the disease.
Just one week later, the flu had spread noticeably. Places where the public assembled were closed until conditions improved. Entire families were affected and there was no one to care for the sick. This happened more frequently in the country than in the towns.
The doctors were just as susceptible to contracting the flu as anyone else. Many of them died from the disease. One doctor visited as many as two hundred patients in a twenty-four-hour period.
Martinsburg was affected more than any other area in the state’s easternmost counties. There were thousands of cases. Both King’s Daughters and City Hospital were filled to capacity. The Y.M.C.A. building was in use as a hospital. Doctors, nurses, and medical personnel were exhausted.
Most victims were young men and women from eighteen to twenty-five years old. A secondary infection of pneumonia was most often the cause of death. It was estimated that in Martinsburg alone, there were four thousand cases influenza. One in three people in Martinsburg was afflicted with the flu.
There were so many deaths that undertakers could not acquire coffins fast enough. Bodies of the dead were placed in vaults and temporary morgues all over the city. One such place was the mausoleum at Green Hill Cemetery. It is said the bodies were “stacked like cord wood.” Digging graves was almost fruitless as the grave diggers fell so far behind that women were providing labor to meet demand.
By the end of October, new cases of the flu dropped abruptly. One week there were hundreds of deaths from the flu locally, the next week there were almost none. The standard theory is that by this time, the doctors got better at treating and preventing pneumonia.
In any case, it is safe to say that the 1918 flu epidemic was a significant event in Martinsburg and Berkeley County slightly more than one hundred years ago.

We’ve already talked about some of the companies and people who made Martinsburg a textile industry center from the 1890...
02/15/2020

We’ve already talked about some of the companies and people who made Martinsburg a textile industry center from the 1890s until the 1960s. One of those companies was the Shenandoah Pants Company. William Stanton Berk was one of the men who helped make the textile industry one of the pillars of the local economy.
William Stanton Berk was the grandson of German immigrants who was born in 1862 in Pennsylvania. William’s father, John learned the shoemaker’s trade at a young age and became skilled in that trade while living in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, where he practiced his trade until his death.
After attending school for six years, at age eleven be began working as a clerk in a grocery store. After six years as a clerk, he entered into an appointment to the tailor’s trade with L. Catotner and Son, and three years later worked as a journeyman tailor.
His next “engagement” was in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania with J.W. Rearick, where he became an expert cutter. Six years later, Berk became involved with the manufacture of trousers and overalls. He continued these operations in Greencastle until 1898, when he became associated with his brother, Charles, in operating the Shenandoah Pants Factory in Martinsburg.
He then organized the Southern Merchant Tailoring Co., where he continued until 1906, after which he conducted a men’s clothing and finishing good store, then was engaged as a merchant tailor. He then became associated with the Royal Woolen Mills Company of Hagerstown, Maryland, and the National Woolen Mills of Parkersburg, WV, where he was in charge of operations.
William S. Berk was a loyal and publicly aware and active citizen. He was an influential member of community affairs in Martinsburg. He served on the Martinsburg for two terms, one of them as treasurer. He was also president of the board of education.
Berk and his wife, Mamie Diffenderfer, a Martinsburg native, were members of the First Methodist Church where he was president of the Sunday School Class of 200. He was involved in various community organizations and was very active in the community.

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126 E Race St
Martinsburg, WV
25401

General information

BCHS Archives and Research Center is open by appointment only (Thursday and Friday). To make an appointment, please give two weeks advance notice. Appointments can be made at 304-267-4713 and by email at [email protected]

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Comments

I am looking for information regarding the WPA projects in Berkeley County. I have read that among these projects there were photos taken of many homes and barns within the area during that period. I am particularly looking for photos of homes and/or barns as part of the Mish families living in Berkeley County. The Mish family lived in the Bunker Hill and Inwood areas. I so appreciate any and all help you can provide. I am more than willing to pay for any and all costs involved in research time, copying and postage. Thank you for taking the time to address my questions. Karen Bishop Wood
Is there a map that overlays the original Morgan Morgan 1,000 acre land grant onto a current map? I would like to see if my home (in Southside Subdivision on Charming Lane - off of Torytown Road) was part of the original land grant.
I have a marriage record 3b112 of a James Shane and a Catherine Snode (I believe it should be Shrode) from April 15, 1809. Where would I find the actual document?
Folks, what is the proper way to refer to a person from Berkeley county? Berkeleyian, Berkeleyite, etc?
The brst recognition ever
I'll be a top fan forever if yall let me, great honor.
It's great to be honored by a terrific historical society
Proud to be a top fan of such a top page
I have ties to Berkley co., I love Berkeley co and the whole state of W.Va